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Shine a Light When It's Gray Out

 

While working on concepts for this new series I was influenced, as most artists are, by the current landscape of society, both political and moral. Over the last few years events like mass shootings, violence in schools, social media becoming more important than reality, fake news, natural disasters.... the list goes on and on. It seems that only after a national tragedy do we as a society talk about helping each other or trying to embrace change. We are all too busy, managing the small things and trying to get through the day. The big things are quite often, too big so we retreat into our own world, virtual and otherwise and give up on those larger things. we give up hope.  Over the last year I have experienced a few things that although separate, helped me conceptualize this series. The first was the birth of my daughter. When you start to experience life through the eyes of an innocent child your perspective will completely change. Imagine being only able to see the excitement new discoveries every day, taste something new and experience something different at every turn. As a father, my main job is to keep her safe and shield her as much as possible from those things for as longs as I can. It is my duty to give her hope, teach her about love, respect and resilience. How will I do that when she starts asking questions about shootings, the president, or why everyone seems so angry. 


The second influence on this body of work was meeting Brunello Cucinelli in Solomeo Italy. I had completed a piece for him and was visiting Tuscany with friends and family when he invited us to his hamlet for a visit. I had never met Brunello before, and if you haven’t heard of him be sure to look him up. Brunello Cucinelli is a fashion and lifestyle brand in Solomeo Italy that produces the most beautiful clothing and accessories for men and women. Since most of my work involves textiles I was excited to see the facility as well as all of the beautiful I fabrics. t is not everyday that you get to meet a global fashion designer, at least for me it isn't and when he personally sat down with us I was beyond excited.  What did we discuss'? Fashion? Aesthetics? Not at all, we talked about philosophy,  life, craftsmanship, sustainability and society. He described the general malaise that seems to have crept into society on a global level and his main focus has been to try to overcome that malaise by teaching craftsmanship, the importance of family and friends as well as create and amazing work environment. He prefers real conversations over texting and email and believes that love, compassion and hope have no boundaries. I walked out of that meeting with a feeling that was very unexpected. The conversation really stuck with me in many ways. I thought we would discuss fashion, fabrics and craftsmanship not philosophy, while touring the facility I silently wondered to myself, do I spend enough time with the ones that I love? Do I spend too much time looking at a screen. It is one thing to read about modern philosophy but is a much different feeling to meet someone that embodies it and is actually doing something about it, the visit was truly inspirational.


The third event that inspired the series was the musical Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda. Unless you have been living under a rock I do not need to explain Hamilton to you. Lin Manual Miranda, through his use of hip hop, rap and traditional musicals has flipped the script on Broadway. At first viewing and listening your senses are bombarded to say the least. When I listened to the soundtrack multiple times I really started to appreciate the writing and themes on a different level. The songs are about ambition, love, loss, and hope. The themes and words stuck with me like nothing else has, how do you create a place for yourself in this world with sacrificing something, how do we deal with loss? is it through anger or love? What will we leave behind when we are gone and how do we not give up hope. While listening to lyrics of "Wrote my way out" and "Its Quiet Uptown" This series for me, coalesced. The title of the series  was derived from the lyrics of Hamilton as are quite a few of the piece titles. 


The series itself thematically is about hope and love, a light in the dark and how we should never give up. The background canvases are painted with dark oil paints and oil sticks. Tumultuous swirling maelstroms. The butterflies cascading and undulating over the backgrounds are the light, the hope and the beauty. They are my beacon.

 

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